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There are a number of ways to measure the efficiency of a service desk or desktop support group.  Metrics such as cost per ticket and agent utilization are the most common measures of efficiency.  But there is another, less well known metric that also drives cost per ticket.  That metric is the ratio of agents to total headcount, and it applies equally to both service desk and desktop support groups.

By way of example, let’s assume that a service desk has 25 front-line agents, 3 supervisors, 1 QA/QC person, and 1 person for training and workforce scheduling.  That’s a total headcount of 30.  In this example, the ratio of agents to total headcount is 25 ÷ 30 = 83.3%.  The same calculation would apply for a desktop support group.

The ratio of agents to total headcount is an indirect measure of managerial efficiency in service and support.  A high ratio of agents to total headcount is indicative of lean management staffing, while a low ratio of agents to total headcount is symptomatic of a top-heavy organization.  It is, however, possible for the ratio to be too high, in which case the support organization may lack adequate headcount for proper supervision and other indirect functions such as reporting, workforce scheduling, and training.  Conversely, there are times when a low ratio of agents to total headcount may be justified, at least temporarily, such as when a support group moves agents out of customer facing roles to work on and contribute to various projects.

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Jeffrey Rumburg

Jeff Rumburg is a co-founder and Managing Partner of MetricNet, where he is responsible for global strategy, product development, and financial operations for the company. As a leading expert in benchmarking and re-engineering, Mr. Rumburg authored a best selling book on benchmarking, and has been retained as a benchmarking expert by such well known companies as American Express, Hewlett-Packard, General Motors, IBM, and Sony. Mr. Rumburg was honored in 2014 by receiving the Ron Muns Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the IT Service and Support industry. Prior to co-founding MetricNet, Mr. Rumburg was president and founder of The Verity Group, an international management consulting firm specializing in IT benchmarking. While at Verity, Mr. Rumburg launched a number of syndicated benchmarking services that provided low cost benchmarks to more than 1,000 corporations worldwide. Mr. Rumburg has also held a number of executive positions at META Group, and Gartner. As a vice president at Gartner, Mr. Rumburg led a project team that reengineered Gartner’s global benchmarking product suite. And as vice president at META Group, Mr. Rumburg’s career was focused on business and product development for IT benchmarking. Mr. Rumburg’s education includes an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School, an M.S. magna cum laude in Operations Research from Stanford University, and a B.S. magna cum laude in Mechanical Engineering. He is author of A Hands-On Guide to Competitive Benchmarking: The Path to Continuous Quality and Productivity Improvement, and has taught graduate-level engineering and business courses.

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